Seeing as one of the main things we like to focus on here at The Gloss is makeup, it really shouldn’t be shocking for you all to hear that many of us wear makeup every day. I can’t speak for everyone, and I won’t try to, but I know that I, for one, don’t feel entirely myself unless I’m wearing the following: Concealer, translucent powder, light eyeshadow to cover the visible veins on my eyelids, liquid eyeliner, mascara, and, on most occasions, some kind of lip color, be it subtle or dramatic. It’s not that I feel insecure or don’t like the way I look without it, it’s just that I enjoy putting my makeup on every morning and it makes me feel like me. Honestly, it’s become so much a part of my morning routine that I don’t even think about it. That is, until, the issue of the “makeup tax” was brought into the public eye.
Here’s how it began. During a Facebook Q&A with Hillary Clinton of all people, one woman asked (and I’m paraphrasing here) how Clinton manages to balance getting ready each morning while staying focused on the “real” work ahead of her. Clinton kind of laughed it off, saying she does the best she can and hopes for the best, since clearly the purpose of the Q&A was not to discuss her sometimes shoddy (sorry) beauty practices, but the point that the woman brought up is very real: While both men and women buy universal products such as shaving cream and shampoo, only women (for the most part) need to invest their time and money in makeup in order to succeed in many of their chosen professions. And I’m not just saying this as a woman who falls victim to this appropriately named “makeup tax.” There are hard stats to back me up here.
According to the personal-finance site Mint, the average woman will spend $15,000 on makeup in her lifetime. To put it in perspective, that’s not much less than the yearly income the average freelance writer makes. Time-wise, it all depends on the woman the speed with which she completes her routine. I’d say that, after several years of experience, my normal routine takes about five minutes, and my more elaborate routine takes around ten. That’s about an hour per week, or two days per year.
Of course, the easy solution to end the suffering created by this “makeup tax” is to just stop wearing makeup, but my response to this is twofold: First of all, it’s been statistically proven that women who wear at least some makeup are more successful in the workforce. A 2006 study in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology found that men were more likely to award “prestigious jobs” to women who were made up than they were to the same women when they went makeup-free. To drive the point home even further, male patrons (but, interestingly, not female patrons), were more likely to tip more when female waitresses wore makeup. Which sucks and is all kinds of sexist, but if it’s scientifically proven to be in my professional interest to wear makeup, it seems detrimental to my career to stop.
And second of all, on a more personal (and, perhaps, more important) note, why should I stop doing something that makes me feel happy and comfortable? When did it become “taxing” for a woman to feel like herself?
It’s an extremely unfair double standard. Years of research have concluded that “more attractive” men and women get ahead, but men are expected to spend thousands of dollars and hours of their own time on beauty products to help get them there. They just have to show up to work in clean, unstained clothes, and reap all of the benefits that hours of female effort only aspire toward.
This double standard is one of the reasons that Amy Schumer‘s “Girl, You Don’t Need Makeup” parody music video resonated with so many women. Everyone out there in the world waxes poetic about how women should go “makeup free” and “be natural,” but whenever we try, we’re punished for it in some way. We’re told we look sick or tired or some other offensive claim that has something to do with the natural bags under our eyes that—NEWS FLASH—all men have, too.
And what makes it worse is that there’s no real solution to the makeup tax. Sure, all women could band together and stop wearing makeup once and for all at the same exact time, but until universal telepathy becomes a thing, I just don’t see that happening. What could help, though, is if Clinton, instead of punting the question aside and saying that “she does her best,” would address that, while there may be more pressing matters plaguing the nation, the makeup tax is a problem, too. But maybe that’s asking too much.